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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Enterprise FMC - return of the picocell?

Forget about enterprise femtos - in general, they're too unproven, low-capacity and potentially difficult to manage to be a realistic proposition for a good few years, apart from maybe a small shop or home office.

For now, in corporate environments (or other 'indoor' locations like onboard ships) the operator-centric corporate FMC solution of choice is the femto's bigger brother, the picocell. They're more expensive, but much more "carrier class" in various regards.

(As discussed in 2 previous posts over the last couple of weeks, I don't buy the notion of operator-centric dual-mode WiFi/cellular FMC in the enterprise - although it's a good solution where the company itself anchors it to a PBX & manages it).

This article caught me eye. It's about a new US operator called Strata8 which is deploying a CDMA-based pico solution with PBX interconnection. Reminds me of Teleware's Private Mobile Network in the UK, Spring Mobil in Sweden, and a Swiss operator in&phone - although those three use GSM.

What Strata8 appears to do is to get rid of the usual blinkered hype about "binning the PBX" and instead looks to use & exploit it for the benefit of the enterprise's mobile users:

"Strata8 Networks Hosted Cellular provides two significant solutions to address and control enterprise cellular use:

- Utilize the enterprise PBX to terminate cellular calls at a significant cost savings compared to cellular carriers. This cost savings is magnified for workers who make international calls from their cellular phones.

- Take advantage of free calling between Hosted Cellular subscribers and between those subscribers and the enterprise PBXʼs extensions. Even calls between office locations are free."


The idea of "hosting" the cellular element, rather than "hosting" the PBX is very clever indeed. The main questionmark - as is often the case with picocell-based "indoor" or solutions, is whether the company can sign a nationwide roaming deal. This is often a major stumbling block, and has been one of the main reasons for a lack of traction in the UK market using the innovative low-power GSM spectrum licences.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There seems to be little headway into the market. What's the problem?

From the sounds of it, picocells are an ideal solution for not getting cell reception at my cube at work. Why isn't my landlord installing these things?

Is it something specific to being in the US?